Fly Fish New Zealand Seasons

When To Come
The best trout fishing is October through May for most of the country. This does not preclude some excellent fly fishing to be had outside these peak times.

While New Zealand does receive considerable rain, our Hanmer Springs location is kind – we have such a diversity of water originating from so many different directions that there is almost always a spring, stream, or river to fish. Almost every day is a fishing day! We generally only drive for 30 minutes before finding the first good rivers available in the region.

The following is a general guideline for timing, how we fish the months of the year typically.

Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May-Sept
Nymph Fishing × × × × × × × ×
Dry Fly Fishing   × × × × ×    
Sight-Fishing   × × × × ×    
Angler’s Isolation × × early       x × ×
Best Weather     mid × × × ×  
Sea Run Brown Trout × × ×       × ×
Best Catch Rates × × × × × × ×  

Spring (late October to mid December) is one of the best times to visit. By early November the weather is settling, the water level is dropping and there are relatively few anglers around before the summer season. It is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. To make things even better, the trout are hungry and at their least wary, with the result of larger fish being caught in higher numbers. Very good sea-run Brown Trout can be caught during this period. By December the warmer weather has dry flies more often used and beetles are on the water. Nymphs are also used occasionally as some trout take a lot of convincing! Dry fly / nymph combinations are often the norm for this time of year when there is some doubt what the trout are looking for. Weather and temperatures are stable.

Summer (mid Dec to Feb) Dry fly fishing is at its best. A prime time for stalking sighted Brown Trout and tempting them with a dry or small nymph. Fine cloudless days, with perfect visibility and fish that cooperate all day long, create classic angling memories. From Christmas onwards the annual New Zealand summer vacation is in full swing. Readily accessible streams can be under increased angling pressure. But an experienced fishing guide can take anglers to less pressured water. This period is a typical time for backcountry wilderness trips, helicopter fishing, backpacking and camping. Surface feeding is in full swing and a dry fly on sunny stretches produces excellent results. Good warm spells provide plenty of Mayfly, Caddis and Stonefly and the fish are looking to the surface for their feeding. Cicadas are present, which is mouth watering stuff for the trout. Warm balmy evenings provide exciting ‘evening rise’ fishing opportunities. Warm temperatures.

Autumn (March and April) The fishing pressure is down again and the water is rising a little, which is good news after low summer levels. The weather is still pretty warm and summer day light saving is in force until the end of March, giving you one more hour in the evening to exercise that favourite sport, fishing the evening rise! Several of the bigger local rivers produce well in this period with trout feeding heavily in preparation for winter spawning. It is interesting to note that early and late season provide some of the best fishing of the year.

Winter (May to September) The headwater rivers are closed from the end of April for the spawning season. Winter fishing is concentrated in the lower stretches of open local rivers, mostly looking for sea-run Brown Trout. Truly exciting fishing can be had using wet flies, streamers and nymphs. In early winter the attention is mainly based on trout getting ready for their yearly up-river migration, while the second half of winter sees us concentrating on fish chasing the Whitebait. Very easy fishing can take place towards the end of winter with some locations producing from 20 to 40 fish a day. Colder temperatures and shorter days.

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Hanmer Springs, North Canterbury, New Zealand